This touching photo of Clara relaxing with our 19-year-old pug “The General” appeared on the private Facebook group we use to share photos with family today. It made me smile. Then it made me wince. This is the life of a working mom sometimes, when the most touching moment you experience of your child all day is relayed by your nanny’s iPhone camera. I was not there to see it for myself.
I thought about this photo on my ride home for a long time today. I had left the office at 5:15, proud of myself for keeping my commitment to myself and our nanny Kayla to be home at a certain hour (my husband Will travels for work constantly so Kayla is at the mercy of my sometimes chaotic work schedule). Then cursed traffic struck and the commute I had thought would take 20 minutes took over 40. As I watched the minutes tick by on my dashboard clock, I thought about the fact that I would get less than 1 hour with my daughter before bedtime once I arrived home. Less than 1 hour!
In this photo she looks so safe and happy, content to study her block and babble to her old and sleepy dog. She’s got considerable dog hair on her leggings, evidence of an afternoon of productive, messy play in our hairy den. We work hard and have had some good luck and these things have contributed to our ability to hire a nanny that makes her feel safe and happy. I’m so grateful for this and the fact that Kayla takes the time to photograph Clara for us.
When I finally conquered the traffic and walked through the door tonight, Clara started to squeal from the other room and quickly toddled into the kitchen to put her arms in the air and reach for a hug. This must be what heaven feels like, right?! As Kayla put on her coat and gathered her keys, Clara reached for a goodbye snuggle from her before returning to my arms. Clara loves her “La-La” … how wonderful is that?
On days like today I can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be a stay-at-home mom. Right now I am fulfilled by my work. I love developing my team. I’m exhilarated by the start of a new marketing assignment. I’m challenged by my boss to run a financially healthy account for our company. My clients, my colleagues and my company are truly terrific. If I subtracted that from my life and added in new discoveries in fine motor and language, budding friendships, counting and reading, trying new foods, dancing and laughter, tears and tantrums, and countless trips to the zoo, library, museum, park and potty, would something seem to be missing? Or would I miss work at all? Would I wince when former colleagues shared stories of new clients won-over or award-winning campaigns launched when I wasn’t there? I honestly don’t know.
My work is fulfilling and not to mention a really good living. But motherhood is joy. Today, thanks to some great people in my life, I get to have it all. The balance may not always be what I want. Between 9 and 5, I may have to settle for nothing but snapshots of the thing I care about most. But the truth is, right now, the blessings in my life knock me flat on my ass if I think about them long enough. I’m content – really, truly content. And lucky. And grateful to God.